By State House Communications Unit
The people of Port Loko and Kambia through their District Ebola Coordinating Centers (DERCs) Saturday 14 March, 2015, received stern warnings from President Ernest Bai Koroma to refrain from secret and unsafe burials as it impedes the fight against the receding Ebola virus disease.
President Koroma issued the warning during meetings with religious and traditional leaders at both districts council halls, while continuing with his social mobilization tour for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola.
He recalled previous visits to the districts where community leaders pledged to scale up their engagement in a bid to fend off the disease, but lamented that despite the increase in capacity to deal with the virus, stubborn attitudes continue to persist.
“If we fail to conquer the battle against the virus, Ebola will overcome us and we don’t want that,” he warned, and informed that they had agreed at the last MRU summit of heads of state of the three affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to eradicate the virus within 60 days by mid April this year.
He therefore urged the people of both districts to make good use of the increased capacity to end the outbreak, adding that government was anxious to resume development activities in the country as this is the time to give the last push to end the outbreak.
President Koroma pointed out that emerging figures from Kambia district in particular indicate that people are still dying in their communities, noting that if people are hiding the sick, washing corpses and indulging in secret and unsafe burials, the virus will continue to spread to other members of the community thereby posing a serious challenge in collective efforts to stop the transmission of the disease. He encouraged them to comply with health measures and regulations to give a final push to the virus.
The president noted that there is no option but to pursue the war against the disease and conquer it. He said that whosoever dies in the communities should be reported to the appropriate health authorities, isolate possible contacts and observe them to ascertain possible developing symptoms.
Presenting the district Ebola situation update, District Medical Officer Kambia Dr Foday Sesay said they had so far recorded cumulative figures of 191 cases coupled with the current trend from Guinea with some confirmed cases and hotspot communities that have been freed of the infection.
Dr Sesay said there are over 10,000 border crossing points along the Gbalamuya-Guinea axis recording high number of cases on the Guinean side of the border. This, he said, is still a threat.
The DMO in Port Loko Dr Adikalie Kamara said that the fight against Ebola continues with support from everybody and DERC is working closely with partners for the reopening of schools.
Admitting recent spikes in cases in Lokomasama, Dr Kamara recalled that there were huge number of contacts in the district, lauding all the chiefdoms with the exception of Kaffu Bullom, adding that secret and unsafe burials led by herbalists continue unabated.
Following the town hall meeting, President Koroma inspected the St. Augustine Primary School and visited a quarantined home at the Gbalamuya customs post.
Deputy directors of Education for Port Loko and Kambia districts respectively said they have prepared for the reopening of schools ranging from needs assessment, disinfection of schools and the engagement of communities and training of teachers on psychosocial counselling to ensure the prevention of Ebola in schools.